Hamburger Chain Christianity
by: Gary L. Hutchens
“Have It Your Way!” That was the advertising line for a popular hamburger chain some years back. But the principle is not unique to that particular chain. Every chain of hamburger restaurants will let you have it your way. Just tell ‘em how you want your hamburger- with cheese or without, with pickles or without, with ketchup and mustard or without, with mustard but no ketchup or ketchup but no mustard- and they’ll fix it however you want it. If you don’t like the hamburgers sold in one chain, you have a whole lot of other chains to choose from. You can have your hamburger, however you want it, your way!
Many people want to apply the same principle to Christianity. They want a church that offers a brand of Christianity that pleases them. They want a preacher who will serve it up their way. If one church doesn’t offer the Christianity they want, they start checking out all of the other brands until they find one that pleases their spiritual palate. It’s Hamburger Chain Christianity!
While “Have It Your Way” is an acceptable motto for selling hamburgers, it is not the standard by which we should set our spiritual course in life. Our goal should be to please God: “Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God;” (1 Thess. 4:1).
Our motto should be, “God’s will, not mine.” That is exactly what Jesus expressed in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Lk. 22:42).
Our Lord, God the Son, repeatedly stated that He came to this earth not to do His own will, but to do the will of His Father in Heaven. He came not with His own teachings, but with those of His Father in Heaven. Jesus set the standard; He submitted to the will of God. How can we remotely suggest that our personal will should be satisfied over the will of God, that what we want should take precedence over what God wants?
Jesus came to establish His church (Matt. 16:18). He did come to set up a whole chain of churches with differing doctrinal teachings and beliefs and practices. That’s denominationalism. People can search through one denomination after another until they find one that teaches their way. But Jesus established His church, not a denomination. The word church in the text is in the singular form, not the plural. There were no denominations on Pentecost. Denominations are an invention of men, not of God.
The various letters in the New Testament repeatedly warn the early Christian churches to not veer off the pathway of truth. In Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia, he stated that the teachers who had been teaching a different gospel from what the Galatians had initially be taught were not teaching the true gospel; they were false teachers. When Jesus, through John’s penmanship, wrote His letters to the seven churches of Asia, He pointedly warned several of them to repent and discipline false teachers in their midst.
Hamburger Chain Christianity is not true Christianity. The only way we can have it our way is when our will is to submit to God’s way. “ There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Eph. 4:4-6).
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Gary L. Hutchens